Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography
It was a windy, overcast afternoon, but Lorna Claudio was full of radiant joy. Her light and energy as she spoke of her son and his friends, all volunteers for Paulo’s Points, was filled with an undeniable love. Lorna, Brok Stafford, Alex Sangster, Jackson Beard, Ian Stone, Ashraf Moursi and Dev Nair comprise the devoted team of Paulo’s Points.
Established by these childhood best friends, Paulo’s Points honors the memory of Paulo Claudio, who lost his life to a rare muscle sarcoma. The organization solicits donations of frequent flyer miles, loyalty points and monetary gifts for the transportation and lodging of cancer patients during treatment. A certified pilot and aviation enthusiast, Paulo utilized similar resources during his cancer journey. Lorna explains, “Pilots from Angels Flights and Pilots for Christ volunteered their time, airplanes and resources to fly us to the treatment hospitals. That inspired Paulo to do the same; he planned to fly patients all over the world to get treatments for cancer.” Paulo realized the impact it made in his life and planned to create a more accessible program for fellow Arkansans. Now, Paulo’s Points is one of a few foundations in Arkansas that provides this kind of assistance. Dev adds, “We have the ability to work with patients in a personalized way, scheduling their travel and guaranteeing rides when they need it most.”
Paulo began flight training at Oklahoma State University, serving as an instructor with plans to become a pilot. Despite his diagnosis two months prior to graduation, Paulo finished his coursework and received his professional pilot degree and Summa Cum Laude. Lorna remembers, “He was so focused on becoming a pilot. Two months before committing to work for American Airlines, he was diagnosed with cancer. But Paulo fought, and fought and fought for his life and his dream: to fly people all over the world and make a difference in the world of aviation.”
Paulo’s Points is unique – offering accessibility to treatment that might otherwise not be possible. Jackson emphasizes, “The organization is enabling patients in remote parts of Arkansas to access treatment centers that are located far from their home. By providing flights, bus rides, car rides and accommodations – these patients have access to the best cancer care in the state regardless of where they live.” Funding has provided financial assistance through frequent flyer miles and loyalty points for patients in Arkansas, Oregon and Minnesota. Ian reflects, “After seeing what Paulo went through, I’m happy we have the opportunity to help people in similar situations.”
This team of volunteers and friends remains devoted to the Claudio family. With regular visits and holiday gatherings, the commitment to Paulo’s legacy is steadfast. Ashraf reflects on the impact his friend made on his life. “Being able to help patients directly who find themselves in a position that Paulo and his family had to deal with is an awesome way to honor Paulo’s memory.” Ashraf continues, “His passion, motivation, hard work and overall gravitational energy that makes people want to achieve great things will be something I carry with me always. I will forever look towards the memory of him for inspiration in all that I want to accomplish in my life, both small and great.”